Citizen Directed Co-operative promises greater citizen voice, control and independence for disabled people in Wales

new logo (2)Disability Wales is celebrating receiving a much sought after Big Lottery Innovation Grant to support a new project to be delivered in partnership with the Wales Co-operative Centre, which will enable disabled people in Wales to have greater control over their lives.

Citizen Directed Co-operatives Cymru (CDCC) is a unique and innovative project and is the first of its kind not only in Wales but in the UK. The scheme will allow recipients of individual Direct Payments to pool their resources in a co-operative to gain access to a wider range of services and support activities to better meet their own needs.

Direct Payments are a cash alternative to traditionally arranged community care services for those with an assessed need and have been available through local authorities since 1996. Direct Payments allow individuals to use the funds to employ their own Personal Assistants. It provides greater control by enabling recipients to select, train and manage their own PA(s), determine their hours of work and the tasks they undertake.

The aim of Citizen Directed Co-operatives Cymru is to run parallel to the local Direct Payment Support Schemes so an individual will be able to choose their source of support.  The development of a Direct Payments Co-operative will complement existing services by providing an alternative model to supporting disabled people in receipt of Direct Payments (DPs). Given that the Co-operative will be the employer of any Personal Assistants (PAs) it will also address some of the concerns that many stakeholders and service users cite as reasons for lack of take-up. Other benefits include the opportunity to pool payments and thereby maximise their effectiveness and to act as a collective voice of DP recipients.

Rhian DaviesDisability Wales Chief Executive Rhian Davies said; “The development of citizen directed co-operatives to support people with their direct payments, is not only new to Wales but to the UK.

We are delighted that the Big Lottery has funded this project. Not only will it reignite the debate around Direct Payments in Wales as an alternative to forms of support currently available, but it will see the creation of at least one citizen directed co-operative which will support and enable disabled people to have greater control over their lives.

Given the focus on social care in Wales, and the imperative to find creative and innovative ways of meeting increasing demand for support in a context of financial cuts, this project provides a practical solution to addressing a specific social issue, which can be used to inform long-term policy and practice.

Miss Davies added that this is an exciting time for Disability Wales;

“Citizen Directed Co-operatives Cymru will compliment our other new project; Enabling Wales which has received Welsh Government funding to create two new Centres for Independent Living and the development of new young disabled leaders in Wales.

Disability Wales’ Independent Living Now! campaign resulted in the Welsh Government’s Framework for Action on Independent Living. Our new projects will greatly contribute to the implementation of the Framework to achieve greater independence, choice and control for disabled people, and aid the development of the disabled people’s movement in Wales”.

imageF3YM2355The Wales Co-operative Centre is Wales’ primary source of expertise on the development of co-operatives and social businesses. Derek Walker, its Chief Executive, commented:

“Disability Wales and the Wales Co-operative Centre believe that co-operatives can empower people to own and manage their own services. This pioneering co-operative approach will enable disabled people in Wales to live more independent lives.

The new project will demonstrate that co-operatives can used by groups of individuals to collectively commission, manage and control their own support that precisely meets their needs.

This new approach will not just be citizen directed, but citizen owned and citizen controlled as well”.

MARK DRAKEFORDWelcoming the funding success, Health Minister Professor Mark Drakeford, said;

“It is through such collaboration and delivering practical leadership and action that we will achieve our vision of a greater voice and control for citizens and their right to live independently in the community.

“It is therefore fitting that Wales will be the first of the UK to support disabled people with their direct payments via a citizen’s directed co-operative. I congratulate Disability Wales, who with the Wales Co-operative Centre have had the vision to develop this excellent example of partnership working.

“This will complement our wider promotion of co-operative and social enterprise models for health and social care and help us in our aim of transforming social services.”

BIG LOTTERYHywel Thomas, a spokesperson for the Big Lottery Fund said, “When the Direct Payments initiative was first introduced it reflected the widely-held view that the care and choice of care for disabled people was best decided by those requiring support and their families. The benefits of such a scheme was obvious but what was missing hitherto was a support vehicle – to act as a conduit if you like – between the people requiring care and the service providers delivering it.

He added, “The establishment of Citizens Directed Co-operatives Cymru through an award of over £500,000 to Disability Wales will hopefully meet this need.”

Further information:

  • Direct Payments are a cash alternative to traditionally arranged community care services for those with an assessed need and have been available through local authorities since 1996
  • Services arranged and provided through a care agency, can be inflexible and offer little continuity as they are delivered around the availability of agency staff. While many are happy with their service, typical complaints include failure of staff to turn-up and their high turn-over, limited time, and fixed hours which can result in adults being ‘put to bed’ in the early evening.

 

  • Direct Payments allow individuals to use the funds to employ their own Personal Assistants. It provides greater control by enabling recipients to select, train and manage their own PA(s), determine their hours of work and the tasks they undertake. For many this has provided greater freedom and independence and allowed recipients to pursue education, employment and community activities as well as enjoy family life.

 

  • Take up of Direct Payments in Wales is generally low and patchy. Out of a potential 150,000 individuals receiving community care from their local authority in March 2011, only 2,734 people in Wales had their support met through Direct Payments.

 

  • Disability Wales (DW) is the national association of disabled people’s organisations striving to achieve the rights, equality, and independence of all disabled people.

 

  • DW promotes the adoption and implementation of the Social Model of Disability, which identifies that it is environmental, organisational, and attitudinal barriers that disable people and prevent their full participation in society not their medical conditions or impairments
  • Mainly funded by the European Regional Development Fund and the Welsh Government, the Wales Co-operative Centre supports co-operatives, social enterprises, community groups and voluntary organizations to tackle social, digital and financial exclusion in Wales
  • The Big Lottery Innovation Grant was set up to fund projects that test new ways of tackling emerging and existing social problems and have not been tried anywhere in the UK before.

 

By innovative, BIG mean projects that:

  • create new kinds of activity and service to tackle new or emerging social needs
  • create new ways of addressing a current social problem.

DW was able to demonstrate that the project met the innovation criteria following research jointly commissioned with the Wales Co-operative Centre and undertaken by Northumbria University that was unable to find any examples in the UK of user-controlled co-operatives that supported citizens with managing their Direct Payments as found in Norway and Sweden (Cooperation and Co-operatives in the development of Direct Payment Schemes in Wales (2013)

 

 

 

 

 

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